Church opens ‘staging area’ for relief ops

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CEBU, Nov. 13, 2013–THE Catholic Church has opened a new base in Calbayog to increase aid being delivered to victims of super typhoon Yolanda in Samar island.

The social action center (SAC) of the Diocese of Calbayog in Western Samar has established on November 11 an emergency relief operations center where aid intended for the parishes in the Dioceses of Borongan and Calbayog will be coordinated and dispatched.

Fr. Cesar Aculan, the SAC of the diocese said the facility will provide a critical staging area for emergency relief operations because the city also has an airport to receive aid from all over the world.

Organized relief operations started on Nov. 13, although meager relief distribution was done earlier to immediately accessible parishes.

The city is closest to the affected areas in the island that are not yet accessible by road or phone.

The base in Samar’s oldest city is operating five days after the disaster, which is estimated to have killed more than 10,000 people, with thousands still missing.

As of press time, the government’s official death toll registers 2,000, with most fatalities in Eastern Visayas particularly in Tacloban City.

Earlier on Nov. 10, the church said that those who wish to distribute relief items to Samar and Leyte are invited to coordinate with stage center in order to maximize the impact of assistance.

As of press time, the diocese is yet to open a special bank account for those who wish to send in cash donations.

Earlier on Nov. 11, the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines declared a nationwide nine-day prayer and charity drive until Nov. 19 for the typhoon victims and the earthquake in Bohol province, which happened a few weeks ago.

Archbishop Jose Palma, CBCP president, in a circular said all Masses and prayers for the following nine days will be offered for the dead and the grieving families they left behind.

He also encouraged dioceses and parishes to conduct a charity fund collection within the same week and have the collection transmitted as soon as possible to the bishops in the calamity stricken provinces.

About 22 out of 86 archdioceses, dioceses and apostolic vicariates in the country were affected by “Yolanda” which packed 235 kilometer per hour sustained winds and gustiness of 275 kph.

The strongest cyclone to strike the Philippines in several decades, the typhoon has left in its wake massive destruction as it battered and flattened several towns and knocked down communications lines in many provinces in Central Philippines.

Fuel crisis

A worsening fuel shortage is weighing down emergency relief assistance to thousands of people affected by the super typhoon “Yolanda” in Eastern Samar, a Catholic priest said.

Fr. Neil Tenafrancia of the Diocese of Borongan’s social communication office said there is no let up in the church and other organization’s relief efforts but the fuel crisis limits their operations.

“That’s our problem here because we remain isolated. Many roads were destroyed by the typhoon,” Tenafrancia said in a phone interview from Catbalogan, Western Samar.

The priest also lamented that food items are running out particularly in the province’s capital city of Borongan.

“So even if you still have money, you can’t buy anything,” he said.

According to him, the problem also triggered fuel overpricing in the province.

Tenafrancia also appealed on the national government to help bring relief aid to the province. He said among the immediate needs include water, food, medicine and basic medical supplies.

He said that Borongan and Guiuan, where the strong typhoon made its first landfall on Nov. 8, have airports where airplanes carrying relief goods can land.

Aside from Guiuan, Tenafrancia said other areas that were “washed out” were the towns of  Balangkayan, Hernani, Balangiga, Lawaan and Giporlos.

He said the typhoon also killed many people particularly in Hernani but he could not give an estimate. He added that properties and churches were also “severely damaged”.

The typhoon also left the province’s 22 towns without power or telecommunications until now.

Supplies running out

Food, water and candles, these emergency necessities are running short in Catbalogan City, Western Samar, days after super typhoon ‘Yolanda’ devastated Central Philippines.

Aculan said in case of donations, they prefer goods because supplies are running short, not just in this city, but in nearby city of Calbayog as well.

“Typhoon victims here in Western Visayas need food, they are already hungry. What we need right now are water, easy to open foods or canned goods, candles, and matches. These are the immediate concerns,” Aculan added.

Affected areas and parishes are St. Michael de Archangel in Basey, Sta. Rita de Cascia in Sta. Rita, and St. Joseph the Apostle in Osmeña, Marabut.

Aculan also raised concerns of over pricing because of stocks running out not just in the two cities of Catbalogan and Calbayog, but in all towns of Western Samar Province.

“Catbalogan is the center of trade in the province; you can see long queues in grocery stores, drug stores, etc. And prices are high because of diminishing supply and higher demand,” he said.

In Osmeña, Marabut for example, people there are complaining because a small bottle of water now is P50.00 and gasoline price is increasing.

A Tsunami prank has triggered panic buying among Samareños prompting supplies to run short and prices to skyrocket.  (CBCPNews)


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